FAQ’s on Medial Branch Block Treatment
Medial branch block treatment provides relief to ailing patients from chronic pain.
What is a Medial Branch Block?
Basically, medial branches are tiny nerve endings that branch from segments of nervous
tissue. They spring from the major spinal nerves, providing function and feeling to surrounding spinal structures (otherwise referred to as the facet joints). The facet joints are small and thumb-sized sized bone pieces. They link spine vertebrae together and are useful in providing general movement by the spine area.
Medial branch nerve issues arise when there are complications in these joints, causing symptomatic pain. In this case, a doctor will perform the medial branch block to stop the nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain.
How to treat Medial Nerve Branch Pain
The medial branch block treatment provides temporary relief to herniated intervertebral discs, bulging and/ or trauma. As a diagnostic tool, it is commonly used to determine whether the patient has to undergo radiofrequency neurotomy. This is based on the percentage of pain relief the patient obtains with the diagnostic block.
What to expect from the Medial Branch Block treatment
This treatment provides relief from chronic pain, irrespective of whether the condition is chronic or acute. Patients experiencing debilitating pain will regain normal spinal range of movement levels as a result of the block.
How is Medial Branch Block Performed?
The patient can first be given an I.V. sedative to relax the body. Then, the area that is to be injected will be cleaned and numbed using an anesthetic. The physician will then insert a small needle using a fluoroscope (an X- ray machine that can take images in real-time). He/ she will inject a dye to display the correctly identified nerves.
This is followed by the injection of the block medication, a process that takes around 10 minutes. After that, the patient will be required to rest.
How long can the Medial Branch Block treatment injections last?
Overall, the entire procedure will take around 30 minutes, including the preparation time before the injection is administered.
The effect of this treatment procedure can lasts around 6 weeks. In case the patient experiences inadequate relief (an improvement of 50 percent or more), they can undergo a more permanent and longer lasting procedure. Usually, radiofrequency neurotomy will be the procedure of choice for more severe cases. It involves the careful destruction of nerve endings.
Are there possible risks or side effects of medial branch blocks?
The medial branch block procedure has a low potential for risks or side effects. Of course, there is a risk that the patient will experience a slight allergic reaction to the mixture of medications administered. Other risks and side effects may include initial discomfort or bleeding at the injection site. Another risk posed by this procedure is infection and/ or worsening of the pain. Although this is rare, the needle can cause nerve damage leading to paralysis with improper placement.
Like many other procedures and medical treatment options, the medial branch block has different success rates. Added to this, success rates will vary from one patient to another. However, most patients will feel marked improvement and some level of actual relief immediately after the physician injects the anesthetic into the nerve.
Overall, patients are generally advised to undergo the medial branch block treatment to deal with painful symptoms. Although there is some level of risk and a small number of side effects that could arise from this procedure, the treatment can relieve continued pain, anguish and suffering.